Innovating through analytics in the travel sector

Innovating through analytics in the travel sector

Our client was under competitive pressure from online holiday-booking channels and digital-only providers. In response, it wanted to link together its vast, dispersed datasets and create an analytics hub, so it could better target and serve its customers.

If an airline knows a traveller’s favourite destinations, and the likes of know their taste in hotels, then our client – a package holiday provider – had a much richer trove of information, capable of producing a comprehensive picture of its customers’ preferences – right down to the excursions they like.

Stitching the data together

The task was to stitch together the data, some of it housed in legacy IT systems and gathered from a sprawling network of physical branches, and analyse it to spot patterns, predict trends and come up with tempting holiday offers.

This was a massive undertaking. Hiring an army of specialists in artificial intelligence and machine learning would have appealed to advocates of big-bang innovation. But AI and ML are only as good as the data you feed them, which in this case was not fit for purpose. So the all-important strategic decision was that the task should be accomplished in smaller steps.

Our client wanted to measure the expected impact of different enhancements and prioritise the bigger prizes. It quickly became apparent to us that some of the steps, even if they entailed only incremental changes, were hugely valuable.

A small improvement in the company’s ability to convert CRM analysis into bookings through better personalisation and targeting would generate close to 20,000 additional bookings a year, translating into €75 million of extra revenue.

Capitalising on existing information

The company held much more data than its rivals, yet had failed to capitalise on this advantage. Ultimately, the analytics innovation was to address this shortcoming by better exploiting existing information, rather than investing heavily in new systems or data from Google and Facebook.

The business incurred fixed costs in upgrading its in-house data capabilities. But now, once it identifies a return visitor to its website or app, the marginal cost of marketing to that potential customer is zero.

Less expense, more value: successful innovation in action.


You can find more details on our innovation framework in this article.